24 December 2008

Cafe Open

Christmas Eve
London E8

Posted by ShoZu

23 December 2008

08 December 2008

New Poem - Gloom Cupboard 70

Lovely Richard at Gloom Cupboard [who I'm sure is lovely for more reasons other than the inclusion of my poem] has posted his last issue of 2008, Gloom Cupboard 70. There are some fine bits of work by Malerie Yolen-Cohen, Stanley H. Barkan, Enaam Alnaggar, the poet Spiel, Willie Smith, Dan Mootz, Dr. Ehud Sela, Maris Hurt and Steve Meador.

I would appreciate you checking out and supporting Gloom Cupboard.

In other news, I've been working a lot and cooking a bit more successfully in recent weeks. Pictures and thoughts to follow. I especially plan on force-feeding this blog over the Christmas holidays. Fois Blog!

12 November 2008

Fifty Pounds

So we're budgeting now. Our combined weekly household/food spend is set at £50. We write down everything we purchase, how much it cost and who bought it. I'm amazed at how much money just flies out of my hand.

We're 3 days into it. Too early to tell. It's still the Blinking Mario period. But £50 is a lot of money. That's £200 on food. Surely that's easy to follow. No? We are budgeting 'cause Steve's retiring at the end of the year. Going part time and collecting his pension. Time to prioritize. I pop into Tesco for fresh chives and two pints of milk then magically appear clutching two bags of shopping, some coins and a receipt shoved in my mouth. I don't know. I'm an impulsive asshole.

29 September 2008


A double-edged obit for David Foster Wallace is in this month's PROSPECT.

Back in Texas, I often wondered if people in Europe felt left out that not all our movies got European releases. Since being here I understand why most aren't given a go. A few every year make a stab at the teenage market, but they couldn't be more American; excercises in adolescent silliness.

A most interesting point about the insular and self-serving American psyche has never been put into words better:

They waste time on America's debased, overwhelming, industrial pop culture. They attack it with an energy appropriate to attacking fascism, or communism, or death. But that culture (bad television, movies, ads, pop songs) is a snivelling, ingratiating, billion-dollar cur. It has to be chosen to be consumed, so it flashes its tits, laughs at your jokes, replays your prejudices and smiles smiles smiles. It isn't worthy of satire, because it cannot use force to oppress. If it has an off-button, it is not oppression. Attacking it is unworthy, meaningless. It is like beating up prostitutes.
This coming a month after Liz Forgan professed her hatred for Sarah Palin on Radio 4 citing, among other things, her "candy coated philistinism".

19 September 2008

Little 'Ole Me's Gettin Published, Proper

Super dear, Bill Shute who is Kendra Steiner Editions is creating his first chapbook of unsolicited poems. His project Last Poems invited submissions briefed "If you had 6 hours left to live, and you had one poem left in you, what would it be".

Check out the winning authors here.

I can only say I'm chuffed.

30 July 2008

I Still Use Real Butter

What does this picture have to do with food?
A lot of things went into this body to get me to that starting line.
A lot of things stopped going into that body to get me to the starting line.

The decision to begin running was interesting. It was Steve’s first visit to America, so I chose Texas as the first port of entry. We spent two weeks split between Houston and Austin [family in Houston, friends in Austin]. We ate 3 meals a day, drank beer from noon and drove in a civilian tank we Christened “The Orange Avenger”.

Flicking through photos near the end of our trip, I noticed our skin getting darker, and our bellies getting larger. In a land without public houses or public transport, the social fabric is stitched with corn based foodstuffs and picante sauce. I met friends at restaurants and cafes and coffee shops and at houses where we ate or shared food or made snacks. Beer always. Clicking glasses filled my dreams. Always scoping the price of gasoline at filling stations and quickly popping in to check the price of a twelve pack of Shiner.

About a week in, Steve and I stayed behind at ours hostesses’ house as they readied for work. We slipped off to HEB and purchased a bulk package of spinach, $10 balsamic vinegar, some olive oil and cherry tomatoes. We retreated to the house and quietly devoured the leaves in silence like prisoners of war with a secret allotment.

We were both clearly overdosing on carbohydrates. I purchased some New Balance running shoes at a sporting goods emporium near my parent’s house in north Houston a few days before our return flight. I can’t remember the exact thought, but I knew I would push myself out of bed on our return to England and go running.

It was difficult in the beginning, to say the least. I’ve lived in my neighbourhood for 2 years now, but until two months ago, I couldn’t tell you the names of the streets around me. It took me a month to discover a huge park 5 minutes jog away from me.

I started by walking down a side street, and then heading towards Leyton Orient Football Stadium, I knew the road swung around the bottom towards the 2012 Olympic site, and double-backed on its self. I would use this road route until further notice. It’s not exactly pretty, and I’ve come to learn I’d rather not run in front of too many pedestrians, especially in this part of town. They’re…mouthy.

At first I was running the long stretches of road on my route; roughly 200 metres at most, then semi-collapsing into a semi-swift walk completely out of breath. It’s no surprise [except to my parents, maybe…uhm, sorry] that I’d been a smoker for 7 years.

Comparably, this is nothing. I know people who’ve been smoking for double my own life span, and again, comparably, they’re doing all right. And for all the debate surrounding smoker’s rights and “I can do whatever I want with my body” and half my friends being smokers themselves, I’d had enough. The past year I’d not been as committed to it as I had been before.

The trouble with smoking is, you can’t do it by halves. [This is something I’m learning with alcohol as well. I’m sure that won’t be a popular message either] I’d been on roll-ups for years, but in general smoker speak, unless you’re on at least half-a-pack-a-day, I find the lungs keep thinking they’re going to win the battle.

For a smoker, the lungs have to never get back up off the matt. If I’m constantly trying to clear my lungs out, that means I’m coughing all the time, and that means I’m actually getting ill more often than when I smoked a whole bunch more. The conventional head-in-the-sand wisdom of smokers being “Well, I’m creating an environment where no bugs can take hold.” And while this is probably bollocks, the truth is I never really got sick that often. But when I did get sick, I was out for the count. It was like getting Chicken Pox for the second time. It’s got to be that much stronger for it to come back.

Anyway, I’d finally kicked the smoking out of my routine. It was easy in the end. I just made the decision. Nicotine replacements seemed silly and counterproductive. But running helped take away the “oh-I-could-have-just-one” moments when out with other friends who only have one when they’re drinking. [These people are lethal, bless their hearts]

But I did find a running route which roughly equalled 3 miles, and when I finally ran around the whole way it was pretty special. And it was all about little goals and little pieces to this puzzle I’m trying to complete. And my eating habits have certainly changed. I’ve not shied away from carbohydrates, but now I’m actively seeking them out because I need the energy when I’m running. It’s similar [to a point] to when I was doing gardening work, and I would eat anything I could get my hands on because I required the caloric intake.

I’m learning all these new words like Tryptophan and Glucosamine and why they’re important and what foods they’re in. So I’m looking at food for both fuel and pleasure. But I’m after balance. I’m not trying to win races per se. I may not be smoking but I still use real butter.

Here's to balance.

05 January 2008

Gin and Tonic, Splash of Angostura Bitters

Of the umpteen different books I’m reading at any given time [books I’ve abandoned midway up to three years ago I still consider being read] is a collection of M.F.K. Fisher’s culinary tomes entitled The Art of Eating.

While I am unable to elucidate in the manor of a great and learned gastronome such as Mrs. Fisher, I giggle with delight when I read her. She is a recent discovery; a purchase from the lovely Skylight bookshop in Los Feliz [Los Angeles]. As a side note, I applaud their commitment to the small press [their periodical/zine section was immense].

Mrs. Fisher’s books [written in the 50’s] border on the whimsical, and her style loose and free. Anecdotes from friends, a wine reminding her of a bold combination of ingredients. casting her mind back through subjects Like the smoke from the after dinner cigarette, she wafts through memory and story tenderly and with great poise.

But I digress. Herewith a quote within in a quote I found most modern. In the chapter “I Arise Resigned” from her book Serve it Forth, we find her on the subject of the last drink. The first part is Mrs. Fisher, then she quotes from the French painter, literary critic and Gourmet Paul Reboux.

“There is a recipe in one of Paul Reboux’s entertaining cookbooks which explains this custom of pre-lethal drinking not too inappropriately. He is discussing the preparation of a rabbit for execution.

‘Many people,’ he says, ‘whose stomachs are more demanding than their hearts are tender, raise rabbit only to eat them.

‘This is in itself an act of human energy which I would not know how to accomplish. Intimate family life with a rabbit, strengthened by our daily relations, would make me no more capable of devouring my little animal than I would be of eating one of my friends.

‘However, if your sense of realism be strong enough, and if you want your rabbit to be even better than your neighbour’s, take care to nourish it---‘

“Monsieur Reboux tells with his own detached care the schedule for feeding: warm milk while the beastie is still nursing from its mother, tender lettuce and meadow salads as it grows older, a few succulent carrots and grains of corn. And herbs, of course, to perfume its flesh before it is cooked rather than after.

“It will enjoy leek soup, he advises, and rich hot potato broth with bread. And even, on Sundays, a little bowl of cafĂ© au lait!

‘Finally, the day of the execution, give him a glass of good marc to drink. Rum, although traditional for such occasions, will render him less careless of his fate. After this, you will without scruple be able to give to his little neck the final and decisive blow. Your rabbit will already be in such a state of anaesthesia that nothing can matter to him.

‘Thus you are assured of having given him a beautiful life, and a beautiful death!’”